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Green Home SE750 - Richard no longer feels guilty about heating with gas thanks to his air source heat pump in Dunbar, East Lothian

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Richard wanted to demonstrate to others that it is practical and achievable to “go green” even in an old house. He decided an air source heat pump would be the best option to reduce his family’s carbon emissions but also wanted to avoid the risk of his aging gas boiler failing unexpectedly.

Financing the project

Living in a 125-year-old four-bedroom property in a conservation area of Dunbar, East Lothian, Richard knew the upgrades could be expensive so he was keen to see what incentives were available. He contacted Home Energy Scotland, the free and impartial energy advice service funded by the Scottish Government. Richard received a home visit from a specialist to discuss the project and the Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan scheme (HESGL). Richard describes this stage as “one of the most straightforward parts of the whole project. It would have been difficult to install the heat pump without financial assistance.”

Hearing from other heat pump owners

After better understanding the financial incentives, Richard wanted to hear about the experiences of other heat pump owners. He spoke to several homeowners in East Lothian and learned about the planning and installation processes as well as how the systems perform.

At the time Richard did consider installing solar PV panels and battery storage alongside but the installation process would have needed extending by at least three months due to planning restrictions. He decided he will add these upgrades later.

Installing the heat pump

Armed with a good understanding of the processes involved, and what he wanted out of the project, Richard began contacting installers about his options, recommendations, and quotes. He reports that back in 2022, it was difficult to obtain quotes as some installers were very busy and many never responded to his queries. Despite these challenges, Richard commissioned Boxergy Ltd, based in Edinburgh which had good reviews and came recommended from the homeowners he had spoken to.  

Boxergy Ltd took four days to install a 16kW Monobloc air source heat pump. The advice Richard initially received from Boxergy Ltd during the pre-installation phase, regarding wiring, radiator, and pipework upgrades, differed from that given during the installation, so he ended up keeping the 6mm microbore pipework and radiators. He had already fitted the property with double glazing, draughtproofing, a new vestibule door, and secondary glazing and insulation in the vestibule to keep the heat in.

Richard’s project came in on budget and kept to the planned schedule. He waited two months for his HESGL loan to be approved, three months for the Distribution Network Operator to check the network would be able to handle the new load from the heat pump, and four weeks for the installer to carry out remedial work and snagging.

Same cost better value

Richard feels that the investment has been worthwhile. Although the money previously spent on gas is now spent on electricity (around £1200 per year), he no longer feels guilty about heating the house.

His approach was to fit the heat pump first and then work out what additional works would be needed to optimise it. He has since installed underfloor insulation in September 2023, which has already made a difference. Richard’s experiences living with the heat pump will better inform his decisions about what other types of fabric improvement measures he needs to take.

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Air source heat pump (all)Air source heat pump (air to water)
Draught proofingDouble glazingLoft InsulationLow energy lighting systemsSecondary glazingSmart meters

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